Photo: Taylor Horn releases a Colorado pikeminnow captured in the Redlands Diversion fish ladder. The fish was released back into the Gunnison River roughly 40 miles upriver of the dam at Escalante Canyon. Photo by Dana Shellhorn, USFWS

DENVER — Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing the availability of the Final Recovery Plan for the Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius). This Final Recovery Plan is a revision of the previous 2002 Recovery Plan and is based on the best available scientific information. 

Recovery Plans are non-regulatory documents that act as a guidebook towards a shared goal of ensuring a specie’s long-term survival in the wild. The Final Recovery Plan outlines site-specific management actions that contribute to the recovery of the species, describe the time and cost estimates for implementing those actions, and outline objective and measurable criteria for downlisting and delisting. The completion of the recovery actions outlined in the recovery plan will contribute to the recovery of the Colorado pikeminnow.   

The Colorado pikeminnow historically occurred throughout the warm water reaches of the Colorado River basin of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. The Colorado pikeminnow was included in the 1967 List of Endangered Species and the original 1973 Endangered Species Act. Recovery programs in the Green and Upper Colorado subbasins and the San Juan River subbasin were established to monitor and enhance populations. As a result of river fragmentation, development, and hydrological modifications, the Colorado pikeminnow is currently found in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. It is no longer found in Arizona, California, Nevada, or Wyoming. 

Primary threats to the Colorado pikeminnow include barriers to movement due to dams and diversions, entrainment into irrigation canals, altered river temperatures, climate change , water storage and flow management, predation from invasive species , and water contamination. In addition, because Colorado pikeminnow often migrate to specific spawning sites and occupy various habitat types based on their developmental stage and needs, the species requires connected river habitats to support its recovery. 

Completion of the recovery actions outlined in the recovery plan will help the Colorado pikeminnow move closer to recovery.  The recovery criteria recommend population sizes, distribution, and reproduction numbers to meet recovery criteria and ensure sufficient genetic, behavioral, and ecological diversity across the Colorado pikeminnow’s historical range.  

The Service in cooperation with Upper Colorado and San Juan River Recovery Program partners, has also prepared a Recovery Implementation Strategy (RIS). The RIS serves as an operational plan for completing the higher-level recovery actions presented in the Recovery Plan by achieving specific tasks or activities. The Final Recovery Plan and RIS are available on the species’ profile page: